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Old 10-02-2018, 04:45 PM   #41
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Didn't realize how old this thread was. So I re-read from post#1. I think I understand the issue. Upon checking my old 301 (pics below before it got thrown into garbage bin, the only place it deserves to be). I do find it no diffrent than the Thetford in design. Although the difference is the Thetford may have a larger volume of such "annular" space. Actually, more accurately the 301 has a more rectangular area that sits below the annular ring area of the bowl. There is a hefty visible seal between the two. So this annular area is sealed off from the rectangular area. But that rectangular area is STILL subjected to waste backsplashing, especially if tank is full. The max. my black tank has been when in transit is 50-60%. Not sure if that is part of the issue; but I am just guessing it helps minimize it. Stationary, I have seen it at 75-80% before emptying into full hookup facility.

FWIW - this thread brought to light something I knew nothing about - the open area above the black tank opening and below the sealed flapper. As EUBANK noted, I too do not believe this is an Airstream only problem or Thetford or Dometic only problem. It seems inherent in any rv toilet setup. Regardless of whether you are talking annular cavity in Thetford or smaller rectangular cavity in Dometic, some type of cavity exposed to black tank backsplashing will happen. Obvoiusly, it is not as bad in the Dometic .

So, IMHO, backsplashing into "some internal part of these toilets will happen. If I was working for the rv industry, I would try to design a floor flange that has a certain length of pipe under it and at the bottom of the pipe is another flap that can be closed either manually (for travel) or completely in auto mode in concert with toilet flapper. Or if that's too complex for their high priced think-tanks, just have an offset inverted funnel beneath flange with a flared opening that is set offset of the flange center so waste easily slides to tank but backsplashing does not make it's way beyond the flared funnel opening.
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Old 11-14-2018, 05:43 AM   #42
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Another view of the Thetford toilet issue - ClassBWarned published a video showing a leak test that he did on his unit. He's using WordPress and other add-ons, and I'm technologically challenged - don't know how to link to his vid directly, so I downloaded it and put it on my YouTube.

He turned his Thetford upside down and put water in it to identify the source of his problem. If water comes out of this seam, you can bet your [anatomical feature that you place on the seat of this thing] that odors will seep out as well.

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Old 07-26-2019, 04:59 AM   #43
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An eye-opening, nose-closing update to this thread.

Over on another forum, someone noted that Thetford was now advertising a "redesigned" Aqua-Magic RV toilet. What does "redesigned" mean?, they wondered.

I think I discovered the answer yesterday. I was in a camping supply store and spied one of them on display. I flipped it upside down and this is the sight that greeted me (below).

What they apparently did was "redesign" the internal configuration of the toilet so that there is less structural ribbing in the open body cavity. It is now smoother in there.

What this means is that, WHEN your black water sloshes up into that interstitial space, your solid pieces of excrement will presumably have an easier time tumbling back out again, rather than getting trapped up in there by virtue of the previous more complex internal network of ledges and ridges.

This blows my mind!! Apparently someone paid, oh, a hundred thousand dollars or so I would guess, to fabricate a new injection mold for this "redesign". But they did not fix the essential problem of the toilet body being open to the black tank, and being the non-air-tight receptor of sloshed waste from the black tank!!

Who does this kind of thing??!?!?!? It's mind-boggling.

Remember, this is the view from below, from the underside of the Thetford.
That circular piece on the end of the lever arm... that's the flap that releases the water when you step on the mechanism to flush. The open space surrounding it is the space in the toilet into which the waste discharges from above, and the black water up from the tank below.

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Old 07-26-2019, 05:15 AM   #44
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Found the Laveo interesting. It reminds me of my daughter's Diaper Genie. Would be a good option for the "head" on my boat.....
What happens when that thing that goes errrrrr takes a dump?
Can you twist it by hand? or does it have a wind-up feature?

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Old 07-26-2019, 11:01 PM   #45
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What happens when that thing that goes errrrrr takes a dump?
Can you twist it by hand? or does it have a wind-up feature?

Bob
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ROBERTCROSS - if you watch the video, they show how you just remove the toilet seat, remove the black rim with all the twisted (or untwisted bag) and another black heavy duty outer bag. They said It runs on any 12v source and made in USA, it's very reliable. Those last 2 words convinces me --- to not own one
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Old 09-09-2020, 05:46 AM   #46
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What a difference a year makes, eh? It has been slightly over a year since the last post to this thread, and the world has been up-ended by the coronavirus pandemic, which makes it very appropriate to re-visit the toilet question, for reasons you will see.

But first, a CLARIFICATION:

For those of you who may pick up on this discussion via the active threads list rather than via the Sprinter child forum, we are talking about a toilet in an Interstate van here, not a trailer. It's an ultra-small space continuously occupied, 24/7. Furthermore and consequentially, our toilet-shared space is *dynamically* occupied. We do not travel in a TV, which puts distance between us and our toilets. We travel within about 3 feet of our toilet and black tank with all of its bumpy-road sloshing around and mass-market imperfections amplified by this acutely undesirable proximity.

For those two reasons, our perceptions of, and priorities regarding, a toilet's performance may differ substantially from those of trailer owners. Toilet in a trailer is a completely different discussion. I can't stress this enough.

That stipulation out of the way, here are some new observations:

I stand by my original conclusion that a composting toilet such as those that are currently offered on the consumer market just will not work for us as an in-van option for these reasons:

1. We are far too hot and too humid in the Deep South - I've done the research, and we would have the type of moisture problems that make composting untenable (and BTW, "composting" is a marketing-hype misnomer - there is zero composting going on in these units, as has been covered by other threads).

2. We are situated far too close to the thing on an ongoing basis to not have a more comprehensive system of waste segregation than is offered by current "composting" models.

3. We are far too intensely developed (Texas) such that suitable spaces for maintenance and disposal can be too challenging to locate.

However, BLUF: Our almost 5-week off-grid trip under pandemic conditions, including 2 weeks of off-grid quarantining in Canada, have convinced me that we all could use vastly improved options for van toileting. And after weeks of new experience and research, I simply cannot see any way to make advancements on this front without the kind of waste segregation that characterizes many dry systems (including "composting") as being part of that equation. Not the whole equation, but part of it.

To say the same thing another way, we really need a paradigm-breaker here. The answer to the usual question, "Which is superior - a "wet" black water system or a "dry" toilet system such as a composting toilet, incinerating toilet, or encapsulating toilet?" is NEITHER. The technology that we need simply hasn't been invented yet, but it must combine elements of *both* wet and dry systems.

Likely response to what I just said above: "Well, Bill Gates with all his billions has been working on that problem for years, and he hasn't hit upon a solution yet - what hope do we have for a van?" But Bill Gates is trying to solve a different problem, one that is much wider in scope.

Anyway, this post is long on theoreticals and short on specifics, but I'll start pitching those out in subsequent posts if anyone is interested in exploring the issue more deeply.

For the mean time, suffice it to say that the ONLY thing that really bothered me traveling under legally-constrained conditions that none of us could have imagined a year ago... was the damned black water system! It's just not up to task! It has NEVER been up to task, but at least when we had social freedoms, at least when we were not subject to intense government control, we could find ways to ameliorate some of its quality-of-life impacts.

We made paradigm progress on this trip in multiple ways, but there are many more miles to go, both literally and figuratively. More on that in subsequent posts.
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Old 09-09-2020, 07:11 PM   #47
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What a difference a year makes, eh?

However, BLUF: Our almost 5-week off-grid trip under pandemic conditions, including 2 weeks of off-grid quarantining in Canada, have convinced me that we all could use vastly improved options for van toileting. And after weeks of new experience and research, I simply cannot see any way to make advancements on this front without the kind of waste segregation that characterizes many dry systems (including "composting") as being part of that equation. Not the whole equation, but part of it.

To say the same thing another way, we really need a paradigm-breaker here. The answer to the usual question, "Which is superior - a "wet" black water system or a "dry" toilet system such as a composting toilet, incinerating toilet, or encapsulating toilet?" is NEITHER. The technology that we need simply hasn't been invented yet, but it must combine elements of *both* wet and dry systems.

Anyway, this post is long on theoreticals and short on specifics, but I'll start pitching those out in subsequent posts if anyone is interested in exploring the issue more deeply.
Great post IB. I'd like to hear more of your ideas. The black tank systems in B-van are surely not acceptable if you have to stay isolated off-grid for more than a few days. I guess that is why the current urine separating (aka "composting") toilets are popular among those who spend a lot of time out in the wilderness in dryer western areas. But they do have limitations as you have mentioned in humid climates.
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Old 09-10-2020, 05:47 AM   #48
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Great post IB. I'd like to hear more of your ideas. The black tank systems in B-van are surely not acceptable if you have to stay isolated off-grid for more than a few days. I guess that is why the current urine separating (aka "composting") toilets are popular among those who spend a lot of time out in the wilderness in dryer western areas. But they do have limitations as you have mentioned in humid climates.
"I'd like to hear more of your ideas"

Heh. Well, that probably puts YOU in a striking minority. Researching this challenge online and across multiple cultures, I was struck by the extent to which people do NOT want to talk about it. I realize that it's not a warm fuzzy type of topic, and it's fraught with TMI hazards, but unless we talk about it, nobody can make improvements either personally or commercially. And it's really important both for small living spaces like vans, and in the context of hygiene in the developing world, where there is hardly a more important concern, given the disease seeded by improper waste management.

The Adinaros broke down some of these barriers to discussion - there's a good reason why their YouTube video has three quarters of a million views. I cannot un-see James holding up a plate of mashed potatoes to indicate feces volume, or Stef talking about the hazards of "heavy flow".

Far Out Ride has also been unusually frank in their review of the Nature's Head brand toilet.

Here are a few observations:

(1) Our entire first-world system of wastewater management world-wide (i.e., conventional sewerage) has been built around one reality - female anatomy. It's really all about women, and males are just along for the ride, using whatever systems have been developed to primarily accommodate the legitimate needs of women. We cannot change the fact that women have extremely limited control over how they void, and whatever happens to evolve this market will need to embrace the full extent of that limitation - which commercial options do not currently do.

(2) Designs like Nature's Head are a step in the right direction, but they are still embracing a western throne toilet paradigm with these downsides:

(2a) There's no individuality built into it. The more intimately one must manage one's own human waste, the more desirable it is to have that be an individual rather than a collective process - it's less yucky that way (not much less, but every little bit counts).

So really, a single urine receptacle in a throne toilet is a discouraging prospect. If I must come into closer contact with urine, can I at least limit it to being my very own and not somebody else's mixed in with it? Please?

Individualized urine collection also desirable in that container volume can be more closely managed. If you are peeing into your own receptacle exclusively, then you are naturally keeping closer mental tabs on when it needs to be emptied - you just know instinctively where you are at, volume-wise. The Nature's Head is so notorious for overflowing urine that successive versions of the toilet have begun to include a secondary containment structure, so the overage won't end up on the floor. That's happening because when everyone is contributing, nobody is monitoring.

(2b) There's no mechanism built into the Nature's Head to mitigate accidents, or to ease the burdens when mixture accidents are not a risk. If you miss your mark on urine delivery and some gets into the solids compartment, there's no workaround at that point. To say the same thing another way, the design saddles the user with constant "composting" toilet structural limitations (namely a small urine aiming area which is very difficult for women) even when the user knows that she is going #1 with no possibility of #2 being a part of that voiding event.

(2c) As I understand it, the Nature's Head urine receptacle is not sealed between uses. It's a small hole, or pair of holes, leading into it, but it's still a constantly-breathing container (pressure equalizing). I'm sorry, we can do better than that - and we have to, in the small space of a van.

Here's a rudimentary idea that I came up with which makes progress on those limitations listed above: Even before the pandemic, we started using portable medical urinals in lieu of the Nature's Head built-in urine receptacle, given that we have a wet bath gravity toilet. I started doing this for short trips when I simply did not wish to use the black tank because it would create more work (in the form of tank dumping) than it would save by having a toilet system in the van in the first place. I then expanded the use of this method during the early part of the pandemic when so many businesses were closed or restricted. I was hoping not to use the van toilet, but I couldn't use anybody else's toilets either.

Of course, portable urine collection devices are almost impossible for women to use. But the van provides an opportunity for a multi-stage workaround for that, which a toilet like the Nature's Head does not. The process goes like this:

Step 1: Uncap the device shown in the screenshot below, and position it in the wet bath toilet bowl while the toilet has no water in it. Just set it in the bottom.

Step 2: Rotate the handle around to face the front of the toilet.

Step 3: Squat over the container, reach between the legs, grab the handle, and use that control to press the device to the female anatomy in the exact location where it needs to be. The handle is key because it maintains total control over container placement.

Step 4: Pee into it.

Step 5: Accept that, with female anatomy, even if you get good at doing this, there will be accidents. It'll be that groggy midnight potty run when you thought you had the alignment optimized but you really did not.

But here's the beauty of this approach - any leakage falls directly into the wet bath toilet. All you need to do is cap the container and rinse off the sides into the toilet itself, and flush that amount, which is so minor that it won't cause you to need to dump your black tank. Then lift out the rinsed and externally-cleaned container, and place it beside the toilet for storage (a pair of these wedge securely between the wet bath wall and the toilet in the T1N Interstate).

Step 6: Deposit the wiping toilet paper in a sealed zip lock bag, same as what Maggie does to relieve some of the issues with black tank dumping. Place in trash or burn in camp fire after accumulated.

Is it perfect? Absolutely not - nothing ever will be, in this context. Does it work? Yes. Not knowing what dumping facilities would be open, and facing both quarantine restrictions and a certain amount of xenophobia in some of the states we crossed (notably NY, NJ, and CT), dear husband and I diverted our urine in this manner on our cross-continent trek northward in early August. We were AMAZED at how much better our entire van smelled as a result of doing that. Even if you THINK your wet bath toilet is not stinking, there's a low level of permeating odor there to which you have become "nose blind", as the marketing term alleges. It is present, even if it's below your level of conscious awareness. I bet you will notice it when it is gone.

Before we left on that trip, I started a thread in the Plumbing section of Air Forums called "Question - neutralizing urine in collection containers". Several people tried to tell me that pure urine that is well-segregated from oxygen and organic matter really does not need to be odor-neutralized. While I still think that there is room for improvement on this front, it wasn't as bad as I feared it might be. Urine captured this way did not develop strong odors. There was minimal grossness upon dumping the containers.

Here's the medical device we used, a pair of these, one for each person:

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